COVID-19 cases surpass 6 million worldwide, Victorian state of emergency extended
Dr Coatsworth explained that for authorities to test for more asymptomatic carriers didn’t give enough ‘bang for their buck’ as opposed to encouraging people to seek tests when they felt the symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose and a cough.
“As we move into a phase where we have been for several weeks where the number of new cases are often in single digits over a 24-hour period, it’s tempting to think that we should be broadening our testing to a whole load of people out there who don’t have any symptoms at all,” Dr Coatsworth said.
“Now, we are aware that COVID-19 can be carried by someone who doesn’t have any symptoms of a cough or a cold. We are aware that on occasion it’s been demonstrated that people can transmit COVID-19 even without symptoms.
“We think that asymptomatic transmission or transmitting when you don’t have symptoms is a less likely pathway of transmission than if you do have symptoms.
“But more importantly if you consider at the moment that well over 24 million Australians probably don’t have any symptoms of a cough, cold, runny nose or a sore throat, there will be a much smaller proportion of Australians at this very point in time who do have those symptoms.
“In terms of bang for your buck, where you’re most likely to get a positive test, it’s amongst those Australians who have symptoms over a cough, a cold, a sore throat, a runny nose.
“You might wake up on Monday or Tuesday morning with any of those symptoms and think “I better not go to work”. If you do that, then the next step is to look on your State Health Department website, establish where you can get a COVID-19 test and go get tested.”
Dr Coatsworth said asymptomatic people could still be tested but when there was a reason to suspect they could be carrying COVID-19.
“Do we test people without any symptoms? Yes, we do. But in very targeted ways, in ways that are directed by our public health unit.” he said.
“For example, in the outbreaks you’ve seen in Victoria, in the cases you’ve recently seen in Queensland, the public health authorities there will have tested people who have minimal or no symptoms in that very localised geographic area.
“But that sort of approach of testing asymptomatic people needs to be driven by those public health units in response to outbreaks.
“This is part of what we, we’re calling in the Australian National Disease Surveillance Plan, the suppression response strategy.”